Summary: The developing unborn child is the expression of God’s greatest creation. Because we are formed in the image of God, human life is sacred.
"Set Apart--for Life"...Sanctity of Human Life Sunday -Text: Psalm 139 -Pastor Bob Leroe, Cliftondale Congregational Church, Saugus, Massachusetts
While serving as a hospital chaplain, I read President Reagan’s book Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation. He begins by observing: "We live at a time when some people do not value all human life." I want to focus this morning on what another writer had to say about the value of life, the authoritative words of king David, from Psalm 139.
David praises God in verse 13, declaring, "You created all the inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb." Bible scholars agree that this Psalm teaches that the developing unborn (or pre-born) child is the expression of God’s greatest creation. Because we are formed in the image of God, human life is sacred.
So when do you think God first took an active interest in us? At birth? At our new birth? At baptism? Confirmation? The Bible teaches that God’s purpose and plan for us began before we were born.
God told the prophet Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (1:5). Similar words were spoken to Isaiah (44:24). In the New Testament, John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb when brought into the presence of the unborn Jesus in Mary’s womb. The Apostle Paul writes that God set him apart before he was born (Gal 1:15). These were living persons, not potential human beings. A human fetus is an undeniably identifiable living organism. Almighty God controls the origin and commencement of life.
In a TV sitcom, a teenager is having an argument with his dad, and he says, "I didn’t ask to be born!" The dad replies, "If you had, I would’ve said no!" The truth is, none of us had any say in our conception, and the creation of a human life is a miraculous, divine action. Every human life is an extension of the work of the Creator.
What do we call it when life is terminated? Some would use the harsh word "murder". In order to justify such a term, and in order to determine whether an act of murder has been committed, 4 factors must be present:
1. A person is killed.
2. The person is killed intentionally.
3. The person is innocent.
4. There is an unlawful motive involved in the killing.
In an alarming majority of abortions, an innocent human being is, for selfish reasons, intentionally killed. If we were to limit abortion to cases of rape, incest, or medical complications, we would eliminate the majority of abortions performed in the US today. How could that be? Because abortion has become one of the most common forms of birth control--a matter of convenience. Couples who exercise their “right to choose” could have chosen abstinence.
David continues his prayer in verse 14: "I praise You, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your workmanship is wonderful, I know full well."
Human beings exist when God creates them, not when they take their first breath of air. Couples may have "accidents", or "make mistakes", but God does not. If we believe in the sovereignty of God, we must conclude that there are no unplanned pregnancies. When a woman is pregnant, God Himself is forming a child within her. By this work God reveals His glory. This word "fearfully" in verse 14 could be translated "reverently"--the forming of life is a sacred act.
The Supreme Court has regrettably placed unborn children into the category of non-persons, devoid of human rights. They are not constitutionally-protected individuals. Our highest court has denied the value of their lives. But making something legal doesn’t necessarily make it moral. President Reagan gave the real reason for abortion’s widespread acceptance, that in today’s world we have taken the value of the sanctity of life and have replaced it with the selfish desire for "quality of life".
Life is so sacred, that to take it one forfeits one’s own life--at least in the Old Testament. Exodus 21 demands capital punishment for fetus killing in Israel. If either the mother, or her unborn child are killed, the Law given to Moses by God requires a "life for a life".
David continues his adoration for the work of the Creator: "My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the dark of the womb, You saw me before I was born. All the days of my life were recorded in Your book before one of them came to be."
We are miraculously fashioned. Before our mothers knew they were expecting, God knew. Malcolm Muggeridge has aptly observed, "The sanctity of life is a religious concept...if there is no God, life cannot have sanctity." In our relativistic society, we are dangerously close to rejecting any moral standard, which would mean: “anything goes.” David, however, knew that he was part of a world made by God and governed by moral absolutes.